Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs and Federals Coach Ray Jauch live next door to each other in Vienna, so the neighbors wouldn't be surprised to see J.D. Gibbs, a quarterback at Bethlehem Baptist High, and Jimmy Jauch, a wide receiver at Oakton High, tossing a football back and forth across their lawns.
It is strictly a coincidence that the two head coaches of Washington's professional football teams live side by side. Still, Jimmy Jauch says he rarely saw J.D. Gibbs during the summer because Jauch spent much of his time running track and playing catch with Casey Beathard, youngest son of Bobby Beathard, the Redskins' general manager.
Jimmy Jauch, who came here from Canada last spring when the Federals came to town, and Casey Beathard, who lives less than a mile away, became instant friends because young Beathard quarterbacks Oakton.
If Casey Beathard wanted to practice his handoffs or throw to another fast player, he need only go a bit farther up the road to find Eric Metcalf. The son of Terry Metcalf, the former Cardinals and Redskins running back, plays for O'Connell High and leads the area in scoring with seven touchdowns.
Right now, Casey Beathard is content to throw to Jimmy Jauch.
"Jim and I ran track together last spring and I knew then he would probably be one of the fastest players on the team," said Beathard, who is following in the football footsteps of older brothers Kurt and Jeff. "I knew there would be a lot of pass plays for him."
So did Cougars Coach Bob Herb. While Herb was drawing up fly patterns for Jimmy Jauch, he hoped the rumors surrounding Ray Jauch and the possibility of his being fired by the Federals' would cease.
"People kept saying Jauch might get fired and I thought, 'Oh, oh, I might lose my receiver,' " Herb said. "I asked Jimmy if he would be here in the fall and he told me, 'Yeah coach, I'll be here.' I was really rooting for Jauch to keep his job."
The Beathard-Jauch combination has been everything Herb and followers of Cougars football expected. After three games, the 5-foot-8, 150-pound Beathard has completed 15 of 30 passes for 408 yards and four touchdowns. Two of his scoring passes--90 and 16 yards--went to Jauch, who can outrun most defenders with his 10.8 speed in the 100 meters. Oakton is 3-0.
"I prefer playing here, rather than in Canada, because there is more of a wide-open attack and the quarterbacks throw the ball better," said Jauch, a 6-foot, 170-pound senior. "And Casey throws the ball very well. The new system wasn't that tough to pick up. You have to just run your patterns correctly."
Unlike Casey Beathard and J.D. Gibbs, who go to Redskins practices to get tips from Joe Theismann, Jimmy Jauch rarely attended Federals practices. He says he is either in school or training for track. The extra sessions with professional athletes and track work has benefited both young players, according to Herb.
"Casey and Jimmy are both fine athletes and, as you might expect, have that knowledge of the game," Herb said. "Casey is a good leader with quick feet and a quick release. He has that ability to make something good out of a bad situation."
Herb said both players' fathers often come by practice and attend the games. They have offered nothing but positive comments, he said.
"These are people who know football inside and outside but they don't comment on anything unless asked first," Herb said. "They are class people and have never interfered."
Bethlehem Baptist's coach, Carlin Dempsey, said Joe Gibbs frequently visits practices and games. He also offers no advice, unless asked.
"We use the Redskins' formations and, considering the size of our school (150 students in grades 9-12), our players have done very well," Dempsey said. "The fact that his father is at the games doesn't seem to bother J.D. He obviously has an excellent rapport with his family and is a very, disciplined, polite kid. He has been around football a long time and developed many of his skills by watching."
The tiny private school in Fairfax is 1-3 but Gibbs has completed 31 of 56 passes for 317 yards and five touchdowns. Four of his scoring passes came two weeks ago in a 26-12 victory at Quantico.
"He's small (5-8, 150 pounds) right now, but he's very accurate and works hard at the game," Dempsey said. "He has the potential to be a very good quarterback."
At least young Gibbs doesn't have to be concerned with the endless questions comparing the NFL and the USFL.
"People ask me about the Redskins and I tell them I don't know any more than they do," he said with a laugh. "I know they ask Jimmy what's wrong with the Federals, but he handles that okay."
"Maybe because the Redskins are so big here, no one asks about the Federals," Jimmy Jauch said. "Casey and I talk about the teams sometimes. I went to the Dallas game and we talked about that the next day. I just told him they (Redskins) played good. In the first half, anyway."
"Anyway," Herb said, "all the talk around here isn't about the Redskins or the Federals. It's all Oakton, Oakton, Oakton."